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Organizational Change Management

Effective Communication Leads to Meaningful Training

My last blog highlighted how proper stakeholder assessments can provide efficient planning and strategies. My next installment in this series will explore meaningful training, and change management adoption.

change managementIt’s frustrating when change management gets called upon to provide training, and only training, with the expectation that is the only thing required for the successful adoption of the technology. No! Training is not the only thing required. Yes, sometimes a project will encompass training and still have a productive launch, but that’s like a blind squirrel finding an acorn. It can happen, but it’s not the norm, and I certainly wouldn’t bet on it.

True, a training curriculum is usually a prerequisite for a successful implementation of a new system or process. You have to prepare and enable users for new ways of working. But then you ask, “Why is that not enough? What is missing?” Lots!

Have you ever skipped a training class that you were supposed to attend? Why didn’t you go? Many reasons may come to mind, but it likely comes down to your perceived lack of value in what you would get out of the class. You felt it wasn’t worth your time.

Now, have you ever multitasked during a training class? It’s so easy these days with mobile devices at our fingertips. And you probably did it because you felt there was something more important to be doing than what was happening in the class. Asking someone to attend training without providing the context of “Why should I care?” is futile.

Always start with a “case for change.” The case for change can be thought of the project’s vision in terms that relate to the user. You’ve heard of WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”). The case for change has to be built in terms that relate to me. That means, you may need multiple cases for change for multiple user groups, and that’s okay. If it resonates with the target audience(s), you’re well on your way.

Next, that case for change has to be embedded in effective communications. Early in the project, these communications are strategic in nature, generating awareness and buy-in. The case for change is critical for these to be effective. You’re setting the hook. Over time, the communications will get more tactical and will even get more specific around training and associated logistics.

Take this real-world example. One of our most successful change management projects was with a large a Midwestern manufacturer (the same one discussed earlier). We were moving a large population of “old-school” manufacturing users from the only email system most had known to a state-of-the-art-platform. For this project, we leveraged our training partner, Brainstorm, which by the end of the project reported having the highest usage metrics of its tools ever on that project, and they’ve done a lot of projects.

What made this one different? We had a robust communication drive that got our target audiences engaged and excited early in the project, leveraging the case for change that helped to personalize the project. By the time we got to training shortly before go-live, the users were literally pulling the information from us, anxious to get into the system and learn more. They were ready. They bought into everything. They attended training sessions, and they paid attention. It was effective, not because we provided training, but because they wanted to learn. Keep in mind that we don’t measure overall success by who goes to (and pays attention) training. We measure by productivity and ultimately the client’s return on investment. Let’s keep going.

This client ultimately had satisfaction scores of 94%, which is unusual. While it’s tough to measure the impact of a happy workforce, we all know it’s desired and increases productivity while reducing turnover, which is expensive in itself. Customer calls to the help desk were less than 20% of the planned volume (less than 5% overall), requiring fewer people to staff the desk. Operational productivity soared from the outset, allowing not only a seamless transition to the new state but a new platform that enabled collaboration like never before.

The project came off quickly because of a well-executed change program. Wouldn’t it be great if every project had this result?

To learn more about the key concepts of change management and how to overcome challenges to achieve success, you can click here or download the guide below.

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David Chapman

David is the General Manager for Perficient's Organizational Change Management practice, part of the Strategic Advisors Team. He has over twenty years of consulting experience and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Be sure to also check out David’s personal blog. It focuses on collaboratively building the breadth and depth of our collective change management knowledge based on insights and experiences shared to help one another grow.

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